The fabric shop, and our biggest marketing mistake

cashandjoy-fabric

Kim had a passion for textiles: colour, thread count, texture and fibres… they were her loves. And so she opened a business to sell fabric. Not just any fabric, but the best. Italian cottons, French linen, costume brocade and William Morris prints… a gorgeous effuserie of touchable hues.

On the very first day, Kim’s heart was full of dreams of freedom and potential. Through a rising choir, her heart announced that her fabric shop was going to be magnificent.

Her head, however, was thinking, “MUST MAKE CASH BY FRIDAY.”

Every time she made a decision, her heart and head started a vicious tug-of-war. Her heart cried, “We want to be bold, to be transcendent, to create, to be whimsical! We want to do the work that no-one else can do!” Her head muttered, “Look, can we make enough to pay the rent first? I’m on board once we take care of the essentials.”

To keep her head happy, Kim made some compromises. She advertised in wholesale magazines and made a big sale to a Taiwanese import group who clearly didn’t care about the fabric but knew they could get a good price for it. She made special offers to schools and sold bolts of cloth to students who “had” to sew a pair of shorts and planned to throw them out after.

The fabric shop was making decent money, but Kim’s soul was dying. After head and heart fought a vicious 3am guerilla war across her pillow for the sixth night running, Kim’s heart won.

The sign went up the next morning.

“IF YOU DON’T ADORE THIS FABRIC YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO BUY IT”.

Kim started demanding that her customers explain why this fabric appealed to them and was a better choice than any of the others.

A number of interior decorators were banned from the shop forever, and a few others were given special invitations to locked-door previews of the next season’s prints.

Orders started flooding in from designers in four different countries (Kim could speak passion in any language), and one noted Hollywood costume designer flew out just to browse her jacquards.

Kim’s business was finally magnificent.

The mistake we all make

Kim knew who her Bestest People were, but she didn’t market to them.

She ignored the people who could actually appreciate her work, in order to grab the attention of people who didn’t care. And because they didn’t care, she had to push and force and discount and make her work a thousand times less glorious to make it acceptable.

When said like this, it’s a ridiculous mistake to make. Why would you chase the disinterested instead of proudly displaying your goods – your greats – to the oh-so-interested?

Because we see our empty shop or website and we think ohshitohshitohshit. (Nature’s got nothing on us when it comes to abhoring that vacuum.) We’re so desperate to fill that empty space that we grab wildly at whoever’s walking past.

The dude who just happens to be wandering by probably doesn’t give a damn about what you have to offer. Crap! Well, we can’t lose him, so… let’s make some changes. He doesn’t like it to be spicy? Voilà! It’s less spicy. He doesn’t think it’s worth it at that price? Price dropped!

All of a sudden you have a business and marketing plan designed to attract someone who is never really going to value what you have to offer.

That’s fucking crazy.

The new plan

  1. Figure out who would love the hell out of what you do, with no cajoling.
  2. Market to them. Lovingly ignore everyone else.
  3. Make a lot of money, and love it.

Goddamn Radiant is here to help. In three hours, you and I will kick everyone out of the shop that doesn’t deserve the magnificence we both know you can deliver. Because you and your offerings deserve no less.

Creative Commons License photo credit: cuttlefish